Joho the Blogherring Archives - Joho the Blog

January 15, 2009

Broadband herring

Harold Feld is very happy that the stimulus package includes “only” $6 billion for broadband to underserved areas. He puts it this way:

There’s an old Jewish joke about how a Frenchman, a Pole, and Jew saved Napoleon’s life. Napoleon asks what they want as a reward. The Frenchman says his family were aristocrats before the revolution and he wants his family lands restored. “Granted,” says the Emperor. The Pole says he wants Poland liberated and her pre-partition borders restored. “Granted,” says Napoleon. The Jew says: “I want a real nice piece of herring.”

Napoleon stares, turns in disgust to one of his attendants, and says “get this man a nice piece of herring from the kitchen and then get him out of my sight.”

The Frenchman and the Pole turn to the Jew and laugh “You could have asked for anything! You idiot, that’s the Emperor of France! And you asked for a nice piece of herring!”

“Ha,” answered the Jew. “You think you’re so smart? I’m actually gonna get my herring.”

That’s about how I feel about the broadband stimulus package. Sure, I’d love to have had the feds build fiber out to every home. But I always knew that wouldn’t happen. Worse, I figured that any HUGE pot of money would invariably end up chock full of goodies for incumbents with zippo oversight. ….

But a reasonable set of grant proposals, properly targeted, can do a boatload of good. Consider Mark Cooper’s community hotspot approach, for example, or the work of ongoing projects such as the Mountain Area Information Network in rural North Carolina or the Lawndale Community Wireless Network in Chicago or any of thousands of projects in hundreds of communities working to bridge the gap between connectivity and digital exclusion…

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